Welcome to sunny Seattle!
Welcome to sunny Seattle! AREKMALANG / GETTY IMAGES

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There are some serious downsides to living in this city (i.e., the cost of living, stand-still traffic, lack of decent Indian lunch buffets next door to my office), but those are, usually, outweighed by the area's natural beauty. This city is majestic as fuck, although it would be even more majestic if it were still a vast expanse of untamed wilderness and fresh air and not a smoke-choked cloud of particulate matter and computer engineers sucking on inhalers. Is Mount Rainier still there, or did it get smoked out and move to Omaha? I have no idea; it looks Los Angeles on a high-diesel day.

In times like these, fantasies of escaping to someplace less hazy (say... Beijing) are perfectly understandable. We spend nine months of the year in a wet cloud and now that the Anthropocene has kicked into high-gear, it looks like smoky summers are going to be the new normal, as everyone but the White House loves to say. Of course, it's possible that Democrats will take Congress in November, beat the piss tape out of Donald Trump in 2020, and we'll elect a leader who will immediately take drastic action to reduce catastrophic wildfires and address climate change. But it's also possible no one will show up in November, the Dems will destroy themselves fighting over a centrist versus progressive candidate, Trump will "win" again in 2020, and the only action the feds will take on the whole climate change situation will be to outlaw wind turbines. Seems like it's a 50/50 toss-up to me, and, to make matter even worse, most of the smoke irritating our throats at the moment is coming from BC, so even if the US does good, fixing the fire problem is going to take some action on Canada's part too, and Justin Trudeau, while clearly less of an imbecile than Donald Trump, doesn't seem that inclined to do it. So, while gray sky in summer might be a rarity now, as summers get hotter, longer, and drier, it's going to take some immense political willpower across North America to prevent this from becoming the standard. Will we ever see that kind of action? Probably not, but in the meantime, please vote: